Friday, October 29, 2010

Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting

Happy Friday and happy almost Halloween!  A few months ago, a good friend requested a red velvet cake for his mid-October birthday.  I happily agreed and began the typical research, seeking out the best  recipe for this classic cake that I could find.

But, October turned out to be a pretty busy month with Pitt games, out of town visitors, family weekends, and weddings of the fall variety.  So, Nick's birthday came and went, much too quietly for anyone's taste.  He didn't seem to mind, but I knew he really wanted that cake, and I was determined to let him have said cake before October was behind us.  And then he went and got engaged to his longtime lady love.  Two reasons to celebrate and just one cake.  That's a lot of pressure, folks :)

Find a recipe is exactly what I did.  Not just any recipe, but one that ran in The New York Times.  That's right, the big guns.  But, while the search was successful, a tragedy reminiscent of childhood took place.  Every single flippin' recipe for red velvet cake involved heaping amounts of red food coloring.  That couldn't be right... could it?  Red food dye would mean that the color isn't natural, and the masses fawn over this cake's magical red properties (and frosting, but we'll get to that).  Apparently, the color of red velvet cake isn't simply the natural consequence of the acidic vinegar and buttermilk with the cocoa.  It's helped along with a literal ton of red food dye added to the batter!   It was a serious blow to my soul discovering this culinary lie.  Pretty similar to "The Easter bunny isn't real!" and "Santa Claus doesn't exist!"  Oh, how I remember it like it was yesterday...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Scallops & chorizo

If yesterday had a theme, it'd be F-R-E-S-H!  I took a mid-week hiatus from work so Matt and I could head to a local farm and orchard for some good ol' fashioned apple and pumpkin pickin'.  After Tuesday's monsoons, I was a little worried we'd be mucking around in a swampy muddy mess.  Well... surprise, surprise, there was no reason to worry.  The skies were beautiful and the air was crisp and fresh!

We were totally overwhelmed by the size of the farm and market setup.  Last year's farm trip was to a much smaller operation, so we took a few minutes to just wander around with our mouths hanging open.  We sampled some fresh wines from a local vineyard.  They were out of the apple spice wine that we really wanted to try, but the strawberry one was phenom!  One bottle of that to go, please!  Carrying said wine, we tried to blend in with a group of kindergarten kids and catch an educational talk by the resident apiarist (aka beekeeper).  Yep, the case at which the beekeeper is pointing is full of live bees!  Talk about fresh honey, honey :)

The night before our little adventure, I spent an hour picking out apple recipes so I could justify toting home a bundle of apples, fresh from the orchard.  Check out the 10 pound bag (a mix of Jonagold and Roma) I toted home... all for $8!!  That's $0.80/lb, compared to $2.00/lb at the grocery store.

And yes, of course, there were obligatory pictures after the great pumpkin selection.  Even though Matt is accustomed to watching me "interview" my fruit at the grocery store, I don't think anything could've prepared him for how picky I am when it comes to my pumpkins.  Come on, this only happens once a year!  It's perfectly acceptable for someone to pine for hours over the right Christmas tree (pun intended), so why shouldn't pumpkins receive the same respect and treatment?  I found a small pumpkin and then the tiniest little one you've ever seen.  It was the centerpiece during last night's dinner.

It was such a nice day that I just walked around some more, enjoying the sun and breeze.  We had lunch at Trax (chicken salad and an apple fritter for me, yum!) and headed to the outlets for a quick little trip.  Sweater for her and new winter jacket for him.  We didn't spend too long there, since I can tell when a guy has reached his limit when it comes to shopping.  Thankfully, a demonstration in the Bose store distracted him enough for me to try on a few things.  Ha!  Do you have a strategy for shopping with a guy, if you must?

Speaking of fresh, dinner last night was off the hook.  So easy, perfect for a walk-in-the-door-I'm-starving-so-let's-start-cookin'-now meal.  Scallops were on sale at the store this week, so I scored a pound of those and some fresh Mexican chorizo sausage.  Literally threw them together with some lemon juice (the most fresh!) and paired with a quick side salad for a meal bursting with flavor.  No one would ever guess this took less than 10 minutes to make.  And, if someone did, I doubt he/she'd care because it's just so darn delicious.  The tender scallops with the spicy sausage.  Should've.bought.more!

Scallops and Chorizo
-makes 4 servings

A few notes: What kind of scallop you use is up to you.  The smaller bay scallops were on sale, so I picked those, but the larger sea scallops would work equally as well.

1 pound scallops
6 ounces Mexican chorizo sausage, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
Juice of half a lemon
4 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, or 2 Tablespoons dried parsley flakes (optional)

In a heavy-bottomed skillet (a cast-iron skillet is great, if you have one) over preheated over medium-high, dry fry (add no oil) the sausage, about 2 minutes on each side, until crisped.

Remove the chorizo to a bowl and fry the scallops in the chorizo oil remaining in the pan for about 1 minute on each side.  Return the chorizo to the pan, add the lemon juice, and let bubble for a few seconds before transferring to a serving plate and sprinkling with parsley.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy 1st birthday to me!

Hey, guess what?  It's been one year since a bout with boredom resulted in the creation of this little blog!  Can you believe it?  I can't!

 Some of my favorite posts:

And, last but certainly not least, one of my very favorite things -- the readers!  You!  I can't express how thankful I am for you and your interest, input, and general support for my little project.  Looking back at old posts, I realize how much I've grown and how much more there is to learn.  Somewhere along the way I decided to share more of my personal life with you, and I hope that's okay and not nauseating :)  I just felt that the kitchen is as much a part of my life as my family, friends, and day to day adventures, so why not share all of it.

As always, I love hearing from you -- requests, questions, recipe or craft recommendations, and even simple greetings.  Without you, this would be in vain.  So, a not nearly big enough but will have to suffice THANK YOU to you!

I'm taking the day off from work to have a fall day with Matt.  We're heading to a local farm for apples, pumpkins, lunch, and maybe a side trip to the outlets... if I can bribe him with enough apple cider to make retail therapy sound appealing :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beef & butternut squash stew

Oh, hello there!  I don't know about your zip code, but it looks like it's about to rain buckets here in Pittsburgh this morning.  While rain may bum out some people and be a reason (and a good one, at times) to mope around, I think it feels refreshing after the gorgeous weekend we had.  Temperatures in the low 70s, sunny, and perfect for a three hour foliage walk through the park dotted with a Razzy date with B.  In case you're wondering, I went with pumpkin and cheesecake flavors swirled together.  To die for!

But, the sun has gone, and the clouds are here.  Late October cool rains are perfect for cozy foods.  You know, the kind that makes you want to literally hug your knees to your chest and pull a steaming bowl of something close to you.  This is exactly what happened last week when I wrapped my hands around a cup of this stew.

There is a saying that suggests making lemonade when God hands you lemons.  I'd like to submit a revision -- when your friend gives you an unwanted (due to excess) butternut squash from her latest CSA pick-up, you make stew!  (Thank you, L!)  Because, I'll be honest, I don't know how motivated I would've been to buy butternut squash on my own.  Especially in light of my latest pumpkin obsession.  So, having a butternut squash fall right into my lap was a blessing in disguise.

Pumpkin, acorn, and butternut are all good examples of winter squash.  Pumpkin is clearly the prom king of the group, but this year I'm noticing more and more recipes utilizing the other squash representatives.  A quick search for butternut squash uses and you'll discover, much like I did, that risotto seems to be the current favorite.  Since I wanted something a little more substantial that could pass for a whole meal, I kept looking and stumbled upon a simple stew that sounded much too good to ignore.

This stew is meaty and satisfying to even a lumberjack's appetite, or so I'm told.  The squash and beef both become so tender, absorbing the flavors of the onions, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes.  That last ingredient raised an eyebrow at first and had me wondering what on earth it was doing in a beef and squash stew... that is, until I sampled it.  The sun-dried tomatoes and sweet and chewy and add a gorgeous color to the finished product.  And goodness, please promise you won't forget to serve this with a petite baguette of crusty bread.  Those juices pack such a flavor punch that it'd be a crime to toss them.  Just look at that stew and tell me you aren't hungry, smitten, and/or maybe wishing a tiny wish for a sprinkling of snow.  What?  Too much?  Just me?  Eh, you'll get there eventually.  Or else you'll move to the south. :)

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
(adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis)
-serves 6

A few notes: Regarding the cut of beef, pick whatever looks good or is inexpensive at the time.  Slow cooking beef will keep it tender, so even tougher cuts of meat will do well.  When trimming and cutting the squash, I suggest cutting it in half, so you have the long skinny part and bulb portion separated, which makes peeling and chopping much easier.  This soup also reheats wonderfully for lunch and dinner over the next few days, up to 4 sealed and kept in the fridge.

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 pounds beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Marsala (or other red) wine
1 pound butternut squash, trimmed, seeded, and cut into 2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Crusty bread, for serving

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme and saute until the onions are tender, about 2 minutes.  Toss the beef cubes in salt, pepper, and flour.  Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the beef to the pot.  Cook until the beef is browned and golden around the edges, about 5 minutes.

Add the wine.  Using a wooden spoon, gently stir up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add the butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine.  Add enough beef broth to just cover the beef and squash.  Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce the hear to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Serve with crusty bread for a (for the females) soul-warming and (for the males) hearty and satisfying dinner.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Baked pumpkin pie oatmeal

Happy Friday!  Why so happy?  Well, for one, it's Friday and this week has flown by me!  Second, the Penguins prevailed in overtime last night against the Nashville Predators.  Included in that win was a goal so ridiculous that the parties involved, Crosby and Malkin, were laughing on the bench, most likely a little impressed by what they just did (and rightfully so!).  But, the real reason is probably because I had my most favorite breakfast ever today (and two other days this week, ahem) -- baked pumpkin pie oatmeal.  That's right.  Don't refresh your web browser.  Pumpkin pie for breakfast.  It can be done!

Let's get right to business, here.  It's no secret that I love dessert.  I love it so much that I've turned a few typical desserts into slightly more nutritious versions that can pass for breakfast: My first attempt at crepes.  Last week's apple and peanut butter tart -- protein AND fruit!  And, a product of last winter's snowpacalypse -- apple pie oatmeal.  But with fall here, I've been hankering for anything pumpkin.  Pumpkin fro-yo at Razzy Fresh.  Pumpkin cookies at tailgates.  Pumpkin bread at work.  You get the idea.  In fact, it's a little shameful to see how the mission: pumpkin has consumed my life... welp, over it that quickly :)

Here's how you, too, can have pie for breakfast and get a step closer to turning into a pumpkin yourself:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Portobello mushroom lasagna roll-ups

Today is Wednesday.  Today I vow to go to the gym.  And I've found that if I proclaim it here, I stay true to my word.  Because Monday and yesterday, well, I was a bit lazy.  I don't really have a good excuse for why I headed straight home after work both days, other than I simply wasn't in the mood to jump around and sweat.  And, somewhere in my head, I reasoned that it was better to have a day of quality rest than a half-hearted workout.  Right?  Instead, I was in the mood to do absolutely nothing... well, save for eating pizza, watching hockey, and baking cookies.  Things requiring minimal effort and yielding maximum pleasure.  So, today, I vow to write about a recipe that did require effort (when I made it days ago) but was soooooo worth it.  Writing about it means that I'm indirectly being productive, right?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chocolate almond pastry

Since the season of "let's stay out until the wee hours enjoying lingering sunlight and being social butterflies" is behind us, that means we're officially into "all I want to do is hibernate at home and consume belly-warming drinks and meals while wrapped in a blanket on the couch" season!  You know, when discussions of weekend plans with friends involve the word "sitting"... and it should be given the same respect as any other errand or social engagement.  My friends and I, you see, we don't mess around when it comes to our leisure time.

If one errand involves significant elbow grease, you can be sure the following chore is light on effort and heavy on pleasure.  I apply the same theory to food, which is why it saddens me when people get so anxious about having company for dinner and convince themselves they can't possibly do it.  I find that, often times, the cook is concerned with making each component of the meal a show-stopper.  That kind of challenge is sure to drive even the most accomplished chef crazy.   See any episode of Chopped on Food Network for further proof... who on earth wants to sweat, curse, and generally freak out like that over a meal?  Not me and, I'm betting, not you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

How-to: Soaking dry beans

TGIF!  Color me surprised that this week flew by at such a quick pace!  After last week's Tuesday through Thursday very abbreviated work schedule, I figured this week would be a dragger... especially with so many fun things for this weekend.  But, I've gotta say, having new and out of my comfort zone meals planned certainly gives me things to look forward to on weeknights.  Not to mention a fantastic Thursday night TV line-up.  Community and The Office were hilarious, as per usually, but 30 Rock LIVE?!  In my opinion, the crew, writers, and actors knocked it out of the park!  Did you watch?  If so, what did you think?

Anyway, like I was saying, having exciting meals planned definitely gets me excited.  I used to fear that I'd have last minute cravings and not be hungry for what I planned for that dinner, but that has yet to happen (crosses fingers, knocks on wood, etc.).  The cassoulet was certainly that dish this week, and I managed to make it even more budget-friendly...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shrimp & white bean cassoulet

Some days I amaze myself... and not necessary in the good way.  After I made this the other night, I was about to pat myself on the back for creating something so house-warming, so delicious, and so French.  Just say it with me.  Cassoulet  Cass-oh-lay.  Doesn't it just sound worthy of praise?  So, as I'm busy patting myself on the back, I managed to neglect the measuring cup of boiling water in my other hand and, as my beloved Paula Deen would tell it, done split boilin' water on my hand.  Boiling water.  Kitchen 101.  To make Jell-O.  Jell-O.  Good freakin' grief.  Any credibility I had with you folks in the kitchen just evaporated in front of my very eyes.  I'll be thankful if any of you manage to read past this.  (gulp)

You kept reading?  Thank you, thank you!  Oh, you say it's only because I promised an easy French dinner?  Naturally.  Well, then, let's get to it.  For some strange reason, I was perusing the Oprah website, trying to shake up my routine of kitchen inspiration, and saw this.  First, it promised to be lighter than a traditional cassoulet.  Uh, what?  I don't take lightly to, well, light dishes.  You know this.  I love my butter, cream, and fully indulgent calories, every last one of them.  But this sounded full of flavor and easy.  I mean, as far as I'm concerned, it's a casserole.  But just saying cass-oh-lay bumps it up a few notches on the culinary dish hierarchy.  The French language has a similar effect on other things.  For example, Tar-jhay (read: Target).

Traditionally, a cassoulet is a rich and slow-cooked dish containing white beans and meat (usually pork and pork skins).  This version uses shrimp and everyday white beans cooked with fragrant leeks, garlic and chicken broth.  If you've never tasted an unseasoned cannellini or navy bean, well, don't.  They are chock full of nutrients but bland as the day is long.  The transformation of boring to "Wow, I want another serving even though I am beyond full" took me by surprise.  Topped with the crunch of seasoned bread crumbs... well, let's just say that there is no finished picture because I literally could not stand another second to keep my paws off this.  It's also possible that my camera battery died and I was merely too lazy to charge it, knowing that I'd have to wait at least another 5 minutes before I could dine.  Forgive me... again.  :)

Shrimp and White Bean Cassoulet
(adapted from Oprah)

A few notes: Any white bean will do.  I had dried navy beans on  hand, so I soaked them overnight and cooked them on low in the slow cooker for 8 hours before draining and using.  Also, I found there was more than enough flavor without the spicy kick of the red pepper flakes, but if you're not as wimpy and want that kick, by all means include it.  Finally, this dish reheats fantastically.  Not that it lasted more than 2 days after I made it, but I gladly wolfed it down for lunch and dinner until it was gone.  I'd imagine this keeps, covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated, up to 5 days.

3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined (or thawed and shelled, if frozen)
3 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons dry white wine
2 1/2 cups cooked white beans or 2 (14.5 ounce) cans, drained and rinsed (I used navy)
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken)
1/3 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly coat a 1 1/2 quart glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add leeks, garlic, pepper flakes if using.  Cook, stirring frequently, until leeks soften (do not brown), 3 to 4 minutes.  Increase heat to medium high.  Add shrimp and 3 tablespoons of parsley; cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp just begin to turn pink (or, if using frozen, are warmed through), about 1 minute.  

Stir in flour and salt until combined.  Stir in wine, if desired, and cook 30 seconds.  Add beans and broth and cooking, stirring until mixture just comes to a simmer.  Transfer mixture to baking dish.  (Don't worry if your mixture seems a little runny at this point.  The beans will absorb it in the oven.)

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Layer bread crumb mixture over top of mixture in baking dish.  Bake until shrimp mixture is hot and tops are lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apple crumb pie

I love my friends.  I love food.  So, it comes as no surprise that I enjoy baiting my friends with promises of food.  Did I say baiting?  I meant treating.  Really.  With as many grand baking plans as I have, it helps to have occasions for which to make dishes and desserts.  But, my life isn't an episode of Sex and the City (not that I'd ever want it to be, thank goodness) so my social calendar isn't exactly packed with swanky events.  If you're familiar at all with the show, you know that the opportunities for cocktail attire and schmoozing at fantastic restaurants are never-ending... do these women ever actually work or sleep or spend time with their husbands and children?  Or just talk about doing such things.  Anyway.  While tuxedos and sequined dresses may not be in my near future, a hockey game in a cozy apartment seems like perfect occasion for dessert and good company.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Busy weekend.  Much fun!  How was yours?  Unpacked late last night.  Didn't have time to write.  My apologies.  Until tomorrow, a few links to pique your interest:
Have a productive Monday!! :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

How-to: DIY fall wreath craft

Happy Friday!!  So, hey, let's address the elephant in the room.  Last night's Penguins home opener was a bummer of a loss, but there are a few good notes: Fleury looked sharp and made some clutch saves early.  The new second line consisting of Malkin, Comrie and Tangradi had good chemistry for early in the season.  Orpik laid out some mean hits.  TK got a goal, so his status as the fans' whipping boy should be delayed at least for a few days.  And that arena is just gorgeous.  Also, I'm going to start keeping a Lizzie McGuire count for the season.  (For those not in the know, newly acquired winger Mike Comrie married the former Disney star this past summer.)  I'm unsure whether it'll be for a mention of Hilary Duff and/or Lizzie McGuire, but so far it's 1.  I bet someone, somewhere, probably in college, is dreaming up a sort of game right now... moving on... :)

Remember when I asked for your opinions regarding a fall DIY (do-it-yourself) wreath for my front door?  After some browsing around in my friendly neighborhood Michael's crafts store, I came away with these humble supplies:

And, with nimble fingers and a little elbow grease, created that gorgeous wreath.  All for $10.68!!! ...and a minor hot glue burn, ha.

(Clarification: I only needed one bag of "fruit" so returned the other, making the grand total for supplies used $10.68.)

I've been looking at fall-themed wreaths for the past few weeks and haven't been able to find anything for under $40.  That's just ludicrous, considering that it'll be hanging outside in the elements for two months, getting wet and dirty.  I still need to attach a piece of ribbon that I already have at the top to loop on the hanger on my door, but for now this will do.

How to?

1. Wrap ribbon (tightly) around wire frame.  Staple the initial wrap of ribbon together until you can get to the end and secure with hot glue.

2. Do a trial run and lay out the fruit or whatever garnishes around the wreath to make sure you have enough and like the placement.

3. Hot glue gun in hand, glue each piece of fruit to the ribbon.  I found that I needed MUCH more glue than originally anticipated, in order to saturate the ribbon and get a good hold on the fruit.  Too little just peeled right off.  Hold in place for about 10 seconds and proceed to the next piece.

4. When finished, lay wreath flat overnight to set and cool completely.

5. Hang (almost) finished wreath on door and delight in the very festive addition to your front (or anywhere inside, really!) door!

Speaking of crafts, I'm off today, heading home for the weekend, starting with lunch and Fort Ligonier Days for a mom-daughter day :)  70 degrees and sunny on a mid-October Friday?  Perfection!  Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Perfect roast chicken

No matter how old I get, there will be certain tasks and talents that are reserved for my mom.  Or, if I must do them, I'll try to mimic my mom as best as I can (and probably grumble a bit when the results aren't quite the same).  Filling Halloween treat bags.  Baking banana muffins.  Filling Christmas stockings.  Crafting greeting cards.  Even something as everyday as making mashed potatoes just the way she does.  That last one seems to affect everyone I know, young and old.  For example, I can recall Matt's mom saying that she's tried and tried to make mashed potatoes just like her grandma did but can't get it quite right.  Everyone seems to prefers his or her mother's mashed potatoes.  And, rightfully so!  Food, at least for me, is tied closely to memory, and memories of home make me smile :)

Because it's neither responsible nor socially acceptable for a 26-year-old to depend on my mother for everything, I thought it was time to conquer one of my cooking fears -- roasting a whole bird.  Since I was young enough to remember, my mom or grandma has always roasted the Thanksgiving turkey, and very well, might I add.  I know I'm going to have to do it one day (pray not for at least 30 years), but how do people get started with this sort of thing?  Anyone not living under a rock has been scared into thinking the first turkey will come out charcoal black and result in the fire department showing up on the front step.  Curse you, TV and movies!  Images like that turn people like me into Chicken Little... "The bird is burning, the bird is burning!"  How can I possibly cook a whole bird by myself? And am I the only one with this kind of worry?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Herbed tilapia

Tuesday, Tuesday!

Today I am thankful for three-day weekends and that bit of a jump they put in your step when you return to work.  I'm sensing a very productive day :)  And shaping up to be busy, too.  There's getting back on the exercise wagon after a full work day, making dinner, and heading to a friend's for a Glee viewing party.  It's nights like tonight when a quick dinner is all that I have time for, be it cereal as a last resort.  If you're in a similar situation, you are in luck!

The ingredients in this topping came entirely from pantry and fridge regulars and took about 30 seconds make.  Plus, tilapia cooks quickly, so double bonus.  Not to echo a certain 30-minute food queen, but this took about 20 minutes total, so beat that!  Healthy, super delicious (dill isn't used enough, if you ask me), and perfect to serve with some fresh steamed green beans and brown rice.  Yum.

Herbed Tilapia
-serves 4

A few notes: Use any white fish you like or whatever happens to be on sale.  I like tilapia for this since its mild flavor works well for a flavorful topping of herbs.

4 skinless boneless tilapia fillets
3 Tablespoons light mayonaise
1 Tablespoon dried dill (double that amount for fresh)
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
Ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.  Place fillets on a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  In a small bowl, stir together mayo, dill, and parsley.  Divide mayo mixture evenly among fillets, spreading with a butter knife to coat the top evenly.  Bake roughly 15 minutes until fish is opaque.  Serve and devour!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Roasted vegetables with bacon

If you had to pick one word to sum up your weekend, what would you choose?  This should come as no surprise that my one word would be d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!  I swear, I really have other hobbies that don't involve eating, but they aren't nearly as fun to discuss.  There was a home-cooked Friday night dinner, the oh-how-I've-missed-for-much-too-long fabulous spread of the Hanlon tailgate (thank you!), a mini pumpkin pie Blizzard from Dairy Queen, and a cozy Sunday night dinner with baked penne and chocolate cake.  Hey, I even made time to cheer on Pitt (wooo win!) and saw Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps -- very good!

After typing out just what I ate this weekend, I thought I'd share a slightly healthier dish I whipped up last weekend.  A warm dinner perfect for a rainy night, full of fresh produce to up my (mental) vegetable intake.  Because, as everyone knows, it's the thought that counts, right? :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Apple spice French toast for one

Happy Friday!  It's a gorgeous fall morning and I'm full of energy... maybe due to the abbreviated workout last night?  Woops.  There's been a tiny tingle in my right knee all week that upgraded itself to a stinging pain yesterday, so I stopped and headed home to do some fall cleaning.  Anyway, that extra pep in my step is probably due to the awesome breakfast I made for myself -- cinnamon apple French toast!  It added only two minutes to my morning routine and was worth the splurge on a Friday.  Here's how to treat yourself:

 Apple Spice French Toast
  • Peel an apple and dice it, put it in a bowl and toss with a tablespoon of water, splash of vanilla, dash of nutmeg and cinnamon.  
  • Toss together and microwave for 2 minutes to soften apples.  
  • Meanwhile, cook two pieces of bread as you would for French toast 
  • Top with warm apple and spice mixture for serving.  The apples are soft and the cinnamon and vanilla make for a nice liquid... I didn't even need syrup!  A warm-you-all-over kind of meal.  Win win :)

In other news... though it's not until tomorrow at approximately 10:02 in the morning, an early but equally special HAPPY 24th BIRTHDAY! to my not-so-little-but-still-baby sister, Jenny :)  I love you! 

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!